Microsoft is using data to build a “more human and approachable” brand

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If you’re a regular Winbeta reader, there is a good chance for you to acknowledge that Microsoft is one of the most powerful brands in the world (reminder: we will soon rebrand to On MSFT). This is not a bias from the tech press either: two months ago, we reported that Microsoft scored the third spot on Forbes’ annual study of the world’s most valuable brands, and the Redmond giant has also been recognized as the sixth most powerful brand in the world in Tenet Partners’ latest CoreBrand Index (via MSPoweruser) .

Microsoft is obviously well aware of the power of its brand, and the company’s top marketers are working hard to help the brand stay relevant in both the consumer and business spaces. Kathleen Hall, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Gloval Advertising and Media gave an interview to Marketing Week to explain how the company improved its brand image since Satya Nadella became its new CEO two years ago. She explained:

Satya is all about the growth mindset. The old Microsoft was about being right, the new is about learning and admitting sometimes we don’t know everything and listening to diverse perspectives as opposed to being the smartest person in the room and dictatorial.

You can probably appreciate this new mindset in several ways: first, the company has been making real efforts to promote workforce diversity in the tech industry. Last year, the company ran a “Girls do science” campaign to encourage more young girl students to pursue careers in science or tech, with Hall adding that “we have a lot of really committed women in Microsoft who want to see it change, as well as our management.”

Microsoft’s engineering team is also doing something unprecedented with the Windows Insider program, which is one of the biggest crowdsourcing efforts worldwide. So far, the data and feedback gathered from Windows Insiders allowed the company to iterate faster, as the company will have shipped three major Windows 10 releases over a year on August 2 (Threshold 1, 2 and Redstone 1).

But Microsoft’s marketing team is also interested in data to improve its advertising efforts. According to Hall, the Redmond giant sets up a “war room” every couple of weeks where she shows everyone in the company how customers respond to the company’s ads:

We have a huge team of engineers so we have to be data literate or they go into subjective land telling me how their wife didn’t like an ad and that is why we should pull it. And so we have forecasts for recall and brand metrics and we’ll show how the ad is performing and how its performing versus Apple and Samsung. We have that ammunition. It’s not like we are on the defensive all the time but it means we don’t become subjective.

Hall also explained that data analysis from the marketing team is the reason why the company has been trying to appear more human through its Windows 10 upgrade campaign: you may recall the series of #upgradeyourworld videos featuring young people all over the world using Windows 10 devices as a “more human way to do stuff.”

The marketing exec added:

The idea of humanizing Windows 10 really resonated with people. We look at recall, the message landing, branding metrics and all that was the best we could have hoped for. And the upgrade data is all where we want it to be.

In the end, Hall thinks that “Satya brought a new era of Microsoft and you feel it.” The company has definitely changes how it operates, and its brand image is definitely better than ever. Even Facebook, which recently moved to Office 365, recently acknowledged that Microsoft got cool again. Now, we’ll see later today if this improved brand image leads to positive quarterly financial results.